From Arenal to Monteverde you can either drive round the lake or take a jeep-boat-jeep cross-country which is meant to be quicker
. The crossing points and lake added Red-winged
Blackbird, Western Kingbird, Yellow-billed Cacique, Eastern Meadowlark, and several Great-blue Herons
and Great Egrets on the lagoon .
Set midway across the country is the area of Monteverde
. Formerly a Quaker community it allowed an
easy access point into areas of cloud forest where visitors can see, with
relative ease, the country’s iconic species: Resplendent Quetzal, a large
colourful bird in the family of Trogons .
Our stay for two nights was Hotel El Establo which was good, clean rooms, good food but ridiculously sprawled out up the mountainside, like other complexes in the area, covering endless acres
. I thought to myself it should mostly have
still been cloud forest!
We were advised to visit Santa Elena Reserve out of the two parks nearby so organised a guide for 7
next morning and were not to be disappointed . Around the centre Collared and Slate-throated
Redstarts were easy to spot as were Common Bush-Tanager, Spangle-cheeked
Tanagers and plenty Black-faced Solitaire . A Black Guan was seen and Highland Tinamou
heard . We arrived at one of the fruiting figs as
this was a good stake-out for Quetzals . The tree appeared empty but after a bit of
time a bird jumped, took a fig out of the canopy, and returned to a perch out
of view . A couple of minutes later it flew into view
and sure enough it was a young male Quetzal . A few more minutes in a bit of commotion more
birds arrived and totalled 8 in the same tree; incredible .
Around the next corner in the track a Thre-wattled Bellbird blasted its metallic ‘Ennkk” from a stunted branch and below it a Golden-browed Chlorophonia perched for a few seconds- what a stunning species
After a bit more strolling we added Yellowish Flycatcher, Orange-bellied Trogon, Ruddy Tree-runner, Spotted Barbtail, Red-faced Barbtail, Three-striped Warbler, Yellow-throated Euphonia and Band-tailed Pigeon.
I’d spotted a White-cheeked Ground Finch in the grounds of our hotel but it darted in to the hedge of the hotel (Los Pinos) next-door so off I went for a wander- there were more trees there and it looked more promising
. Sure enough an Orange-billed Nightingale
Thrush, Euphonia, Plain Wren and Striped Hummingbird were all added .
From here it was a 3 hour drive, 2 on stone roads down to Carara NP on the coast
Collared Redstart and Golden-crowned Chlorophonia- smart species!
Spotted Barbtail and Quetzal sub-ad male-Santa Elena. We saw 8 birds in the same tree including two other adult males- an amazing sight.
Three Wattled Bellbird
Black Guan and Common Bush-Tanager
What i think are Stripe-tailed Hummers fem above, male below
Slate-throated Redstart and Spangle-cheeked Tanager